Tag Archives: Perfect Chemistry

Book Reviews
September 23, 2013 posted by Nichole

Wild Cards – Simone Elkeles

13065327After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain–people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?


Unlike a lot of contemporary fans, I haven’t read very much by Simone Elkeles. Long before I started my huge reading craze, I read one of her books. I think it was Perfect Chemistry. I remember that I liked it, but it was sooooo long ago. Everyone else was so excited for this book, and I knew that I had to read it just because of that. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book. I didn’t even finish this book. I think I got about 100 pages into it, and then I was done. I skimmed the rest. I’m not going to be rating this book, but I’ll tell you guys what I didn’t like about it.

Wild Cards stars out really good. It’s a story about a football player, Ashtyn, who has just been made captain of her team. Her sister, who she hasn’t seen in about 8 years, has finally moved back home….and she brought along two additional packages: her 5-year-old son and her stepson, Derek. Ashtyn instantly feels a spark with Derek and fights it by treating him like he’s basically dirt under her foot. Then, Ashtyn’s boyfriend betrays her and the team by switching schools to be the captain of their rival team, and Ashtyn’s relationship with Derek begins to grow.

The beginning relationship between Ashtyn and Derek is both funny and cute. All the snide remarks topped by the sweet gestures every now and then were a great starter for what was to come. Derek, especially, was a great character! He was hot, smart (a smartass, really!), dedicated, loyal, and just sweet. He had a total bad boy act going on that many girls are going to love. If all of the characters had been like Derek, this book would have been a major hit. Unfortunately, Ashtyn was a whole other issue. She was whiney, annoying, bitchy, spoiled, and just an overall obnoxious character. I found myself  cringing every single time that she came on the page. She just wasn’t someone that I wanted to read about.

My major issue with this book was how choppy it was. It literally seemed like a group of people in an acting class rehearsing their lines. There were very short simple sentences, the characters didn’t seem to have the chemistry that I really wanted to see, and the supporting characters failed to impress me. It’s pretty choppy all throughout the book. I think the beginning might have been a bit better because that’s when Derek’s bad boy personality is at its peak. It starts dying down around page 60, though.

Overall, I wasn’t a fan of this book, and I will not be continuing this series. I would encourage contemporary fans to give it a shot, especially younger teens.


If you like this book, then try out:

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry


Pages: 288

Publication Date: September 24th, 2013

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

Source: ARC provided by publisher

Rating: N/A

Author Interview with Simone Elkeles
Author Interviews
August 15, 2010 posted by Nikki

Author Interview with Simone Elkeles

As you all know, to celebrate the release of her new novel, Return to Paradise, we’re celebrating all things Simone Elkeles this month. Everyone here at yaReads has Elkeles Fever and were stoked when she sat down for an interview with us. If you’ve been following any of Simone’s stories, chances are you’re going to love this interview! Strap yourselves in, folks. This one is too awesome for words.

Return to Paradise gives readers a bit of closure. Is this it for Maggie and Caleb, or will we be treated to another novel?

The story is finished after Return to Paradise.  However, I want to tell my fans that they will feel much better about the ending I have in store for Maggie and Caleb this time!

I know what my favorite moment is, but I’m dying to know what your fave Caleb and Maggie moment in Return to Paradise is…

I would have to say when Maggie and Caleb are kissing in the lake.  Things really heat up and I think my fans are going to be surprised by what Maggie does next.  I’m just so proud of her!  She’s so much stronger than she was in Leaving Paradise.

Will we ever learn what Maggie and Caleb got up to during the year they spent apart?

I think the most important thing that happened while they were apart is that they learned what’s most important in life:  being with the ones you love.  I know many of my fans were upset with the ending of Leaving Paradise, but I didn’t think Maggie and Caleb were ready to be with each other yet.  However, after a year apart. . .

I’m curious to learn what happens to Leah next – will we ever find out?

Everyone has a lot of healing to do, but Leah more than anyone.  I think Leah has a rough road ahead of her, but I have no doubt that she will prevail.

Of all the characters you’ve created, Caleb is definitely my fave. Who is your fave?

I get asked that question a lot, but there’s no way to pick!  (It would be like having to choose my favorite out of my children.)  I love Caleb because he is so strong in most areas of his life, but he needs Maggie to be complete.  I love Maggie for the way she forgives Caleb and Leah even though she’ll have scars forever.  Of course, I love Alex and Carlos for pushing the envelope, but still being very caring.  I respect Brittany and Kiara for not giving up on the guys they love, even when the boys make things very challenging!  See what I mean?  I could never pick!

Of all the characters you’ve created, which did you find the most challenging to write, and why?

All of my characters were challenging in different ways.  I had to do quite a bit of research to write about Alex and Carlos and their gang affiliations as well as Hispanic culture.  I talked to kids in Juvenile Detention facilities, met with police officers who work in tough neighborhoods, and even went on a “ride-along” and got to wear a bullet-proof vest!

You seem to have quite an affiliation with bad boys being reformed by good, wholesome girls. Why is that?

I love bad boys.  They’re my weakness.  Find me a hot and sexy bad boy and I melt.  I think it’s my “female gene” that makes me want to fix those bad boys.  If I can fix a bad boy, I can fix anything! (females are natural people-fixers, in my opinion)  Alex and Carlos and Caleb are a mixture of a bunch of boys I know or did know throughout my life… I’m totally sarcastic and “get” guys like that.  And just like behind a good man you’ll find a good woman, behind most bad boys you’ll find a good heart.  (Not all bad boys are redeemable in real life, but I write fiction and my bad boys are ‘curable!’)

How do you go about choosing your character’s names?

I get asked that question all the time.  Listen, if you were obnoxious in high school your name is somehow connected to the rude girls in my books, ha ha.  My friends laugh when I say to beware of pissing me off because you just might find yourself in one of my books (although Darlene was a great friend of mine in school and she’s the mean girl in Perfect Chemistry and Madison is the daughter of my best friend and the mean girl in Rules of Attraction). I’m a girl scout leader, so I use a lot of my girls’ names in my books.  I use last names of people I know most of the time or I make them up.  I will also go to baby name websites and find names that I like.  Sometimes I even use names from my fan mail.  My fans have some very cool names!

What’s in your TBR pile at the moment?

My “to read” pile is enormous because I can’t remember the last time I felt like I had enough time to read!  But, I definitely want to make time to read Mockingjay when it comes out.  I loved The Hunger Games!

For you, what are the best and worse things about being a writer?

There are so many things I love about being a writer!  I love the satisfying feeling of writing “The End” when I finish a book.  I love my RITA award I just won at the Romance Writers of America conference!  (seriously, she’s so pretty. . . I can’t stop looking at her!)  But, most of all, I LOVE MY FANS!  The wonderful comments I get on my Facebook, myspace, and twitter really keep me going when I’m feeling down or frustrated.

Can you tell us what you’re working on next?

I’m currently working on Chain Reaction, the third book in the Perfect Chemistry series.  This one is about Luis, the youngest Fuentes brother.  He’s such a good guy who doesn’t live with the angst that his big brothers have always lived with.  Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams.  When he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he’s never known to try and save her from herself.  Just when he thinks he’s got life all figured out, Luis learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life.  Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father?

Rules of Attraction: A Perfect Chemistry Novel – Simone Elkeles
Book Reviews
June 4, 2010 posted by Nikki

Rules of Attraction: A Perfect Chemistry Novel – Simone Elkeles

Carlos Fuentes doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colorado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path—just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren’t easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord.

When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He’s even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor’s daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he’s usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.

As the danger grows for Carlos, he’s shocked to discover that it’s this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he’s never even dreamed possible?

Carlos Fuentes is a lot like his older brother, Alex, used to be. He’s got the hot Mexican look working for him, the gang affiliations, and a whole lot of bad boy ‘tude to go with it. On first glance, Carlos looks a whole lot like you’re average trouble maker, and he does absolutely nothing to dispel such ideas, either. But then Carlos’ mother ships him off to America to live with his brother, hoping and praying that such a change will give Carlos a better chance in life, and everything Carlos knew to be true about himself comes crashing on down.

Alex is different now. He’s cleaned himself up and managed to pull right away from any gang affiliations that he was previously linked to. He’s dating Brittany and going to college. All in all, Alex is making a good, honest life for himself. As irrational as it sounds, Carlos feels betrayed by Alex and his attempts to step away from his familial roots. What Carlos can’t seem to understand, though, is that Alex made those changes for his family.

Not surprisingly, Carlos instantly gets mixed up with the wrong kids at school and lands himself in trouble with the law. Through circumstances that are beyond his control, Carlos winds up unable to live with Alex and – begrudgingly – ends up rooming with a teacher. It’s here, in this house, that Carlos develops an infatuation with his fellow classmate, and daughter of the professor, Kiara.

Kiara is everything Carlos isn’t. She’s plain, modest, and a good, wholesome teenager. She holds responsibility and academic achievement in his esteem, and abides by the natural order of right and wrong. Although she’s not a typical ‘leader’, Kiara knows who she is and is confident in her sense of self and character.

And she completely wipes Carlos off his feet. He knows its crazy. He could have any girl he wanted. Why her? His attraction to a plain, goody two shoes makes no sense to him at all and he does everything in his power to fight it. But if we’ve learned anything from Alex and Brittnay’s tale in Perfect Chemistry, we know that Fuentes boys can only deny the sound of their thumping hearts for so long.

Lucky for Carlos, Kiara is also seriously taken with Carlos. Although she’s completely surprised by her feelings for him, she processes the whole thing in a mature way. She accepts their differences and opens herself to the possibility that something could develop between them.

In true Fuentes fashion, though, Carlos lands himself in a whole lot of hot water. His gang affiliations catch up with him and Carlos is forced into a situation that he can’t say no to. His life, and the lives of those he loves, depends on his participation in a high risk, illegal activity.

You’ll never believe who swoops in and saves the day…

Although Rules of Attraction follows a similar formula to Perfect Chemistry, Carlos has enough personal differences to Alex to make this story unique enough. The relationship that develops between Carlos and Kiara is different to the relationship readers are exposed to in Perfect Chemistry.

Like everything Elkeles does, Rules of Attraction is an easily digested novel, and I read the whole thing in just a handful of hours. This novel has all the good stuff – romance, action, suspense, humor and good, colorful writing. As is everything she produces, this instalment from Elkeles was a joy to read. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “As long as you’re talking to Brittany,” I say as I bite off the end of an egg roll, “why don’t you ask for your huevos back.”

Author Interview with Simone Elkeles
Author Interviews
March 15, 2009 posted by Nikki

Author Interview with Simone Elkeles

Simone Elkeles is the author of Perfect Chemisty, our book of the month. She sat down with us this week to talk about Alex and Brittany, the possibility of a sequel, and a few other quirky tidbits that we thought you might find interesting. Enjoy guys!

Simone Elkeles, can you tell us how you got into writing and why you chose the YA genre?

I started writing adult novels (although they were never published), but then had the idea for a young adult novel.  When I started writing it, I seriously felt so comfortable writing the teen characters I immediately knew writing teen novels was “the place for me.”  The characters and story just flowed out from my fingertips and onto the computer screen.  To be honest, even though Perfect Chemistry is my fourth novel to come out it was actually the first young adult novel I wrote.  Most people don’t know that my original title for Perfect Chemistry was ZERO TOLERANCE.  I thought it was a perfect title to describe the book, because Alex has no tolerance for Brittany and her rich friends and Brittany has no tolerance for Alex and his gang life.  And their chemistry teacher has a ‘zero tolerance policy’ in her class.  My publisher hated the title Zero Tolerance and said I had to change it.  One of my best friends Marilyn Brant, who has her first book coming out soon titled According to Jane, actually came up with the title Perfect Chemistry.

Do you have any habits or little quirks that you implement as part of your writing process?

I’m a mom, so sometimes I have to write at one of my kids’ hockey games or while watching my son play baseball.  I don’t write off of an outline (I’m just not that organized) so there really is no routine for me.  Sometimes I cut out magazine pictures of people who I think look like my characters, and those pictures give me inspiration.  The character Alex was inspired by this Mexican guy who works at the deli by my house.  When I was writing Perfect Chemistry, it’s no wonder every week I found myself at the deli stocking up on bagels.

This is not your first novel, what inspired Perfect Chemistry?

There’s a town by my house where there is a big Hispanic community on one side and people who live in big houses on Lake Michigan on the other side.  They all go to the same high school.  I just thought it would be interesting to explore a fictional town with that same dynamic…where a boy and girl from two sides of town have to come together in chemistry class.  I loved showing readers the stereotype of each of my main characters (gang member and rich white girl) and then break down those stereotypes throughout the book.

Are you more like Alex, or Brittany?

Oh, that is such a good question!  I guess my attitude is more like Alex’s, but I definitely have qualities of Brittany.  I think a lot of girls have insecurities like Brittany.  Sometimes it feels like we can’t be “real” because we risk showing our imperfections.  In the book I’m working on now (How to Ruin Your Boyfriend’s Reputation), my character observes that people who are “normal” are actually a minority.

If there was one single message that you wanted readers to take from Perfect Chemistry, what would that be?

Don’t judge people based on their appearance.  But secondly, I’d love for readers to realize that nobody is perfect and everyone should have courage to show their true selves (even imperfections) to people.  It’s okay to be “real.”

When Alex leaves towards the end, why did you decide to have him leave then? I thought for sure he’d try to make things right with Brittany before he did…At that point in the book, Alex felt he had to leave for Brittany’s safety.  Everyone he cares about dies, and by leaving and cutting ties with her he felt he was saving her life.

Finish these sentences…

(These are their flaws at the beginning of Perfect Chemistry)

Brittany’s biggest flaw is…she’s afraid to show her true self and admit her insecurities/problems to the outside world.

Alex’s biggest flaw is…
he doesn’t think his life can change, so he settles for the status quo without fighting for what he believes in.

In your opinion, what makes them such a great couple?

Alex and Brittany are so different on the outside, but yet they’re so similar when you get to know who they really are.  It’s those similarities that bring them together.  Alex and Brittany both hide their true selves to the outside world and let very few people get past their barrier.  They actually find comfort in knowing that they both put on a show to the outside world in an effort to hide their true selves.  Alex tells Brittany to be real, but sometimes she doesn’t know how.  By knowing each other, and truly accepting each other, they both become stronger and are able to overcome their problems.

I heard somewhere out in cyberspace that you were thinking of writing a sequel to this one, is this true, and if so, can you dish us a little dirt?

As of right now, there are no plans for a sequel.  I’d love to write one someday, because I’d love to continue Alex and Brittany’s story.  To be honest, I’d also love to write the stories of Carlos and Luis, Alex’s brothers.

Now for some more light-hearted questions…

What are your top five favourite books (either right now, or of all time)?

Forever by Judy Blume

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

Lady be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (adult romance novel)

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez

The Boy Next Door
by Meg Cabot

What was the last movie you saw?

Mall Cop (although as of tonight I have to change the answer because I just saw Slumdog Millionaire)

Dogs or cats?

For me, it’s definitely DOGS!  I have two of them: a Labradoodle and a Lab/Rottweiler mix that I just rescued from the shelter.

Vampires or werewolves?

Although I am a huge “dog” lover, after reading Twilight I have to say Vampires.

If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island for the rest of your life, what would be the five items you’d take with you from your current life?

Assuming my family and dogs are with me, I’d bring:

My bed (I can’t sleep comfortably on the ground)

My iphone (I know it’ll run out of battery, but in my fantasy it never runs out)

A deck of cards (I’d get bored, so making up solitaire games would help pass the time)

My computer (so I can write)

Flint (I’ve watched Survivor and would definitely need fire to cook and keep me warm – I hate being cold.  Don’t ask me why I live in one of the coldest states in the US)

What is the best and the worst thing about being Simone Elkeles?


Best thing: I love making people laugh and always look at the positive parts of life

Worst thing: I have a hard time juggling being a writer, mom, and wife.  Life gets pretty hectic at times, especially when I’m on deadline for a book

We’d just like to thank Simone for taking the time out of her busy schedule to do this interview with us! Stay tuned for a guest review from Simone soon!

Perfect Chemisty Giveaway Winners
March 12, 2009 posted by Nikki

Perfect Chemisty Giveaway Winners

Well, it’s announcement time again. We’ve thrown all the names of those who entered this competition into a random selector and we’re pleased to announce that the winners of the Perfect Chemistry giveaway are xdaisyx and stephanied. Congratulations guys and thanks for your participation. We’d also like to extend our gratitude to Simone Elkeles for providing the prizes.

Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Simone, plus a guest review of her very own fave YA novel.

Perfect Chemistry Giveaway
March 7, 2009 posted by Nikki

Perfect Chemistry Giveaway

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is our book of the month. Simone is offering two copies of her novel to US residents only. So if you live in the USA and you want a copy, email your name to yareadscontest(at)gmail(dot)com with Perfect Chemistry in the subject line. Once you’ve done that, click here and register your name in the Perfect Chemistry giveaway thread on our forum.

Competition is open until Thursday, March 12, 2009

Perfect Chemistry – Simone Elkeles
Book Reviews
March 4, 2009 posted by Nikki

Perfect Chemistry – Simone Elkeles

Brittany is a picture of the perfect American girl. She’s blonde, beautiful and head of the cheerleading squad. She’s smart, too, and comes from a well-to-do middle class family. And just like the icing on an already piece of sublime cake, Brittany is dating the quarterback of the football team. Perfect, right?

Maybe, but maybe not, too.

Things certainly look perfect in Brittany’s life, but she’s harboring some deep secrets that she protects with her life. Her older sister is severely disabled and neither of her parents seems to care about her enough to do anything about it. The only reason they haven’t shipped her off to a nursing home yet is because Brittany flat-out refuses to let them do it. Through all her difficulties, Brittany loves her sister and can’t comprehend how her parents can be so cavalier about their first-born child. But her parents are all about appearances, you see, and having a severely disabled daughter contradicts the image they’ve built for themselves.

As if Brittany didn’t already have enough on her plate, on the first day of senior year her Chemistry teachers pairs her up with Alex Fuentes in class – and they’re bound to each other for the entire school year.

Alex Fuentes is not the picture of the perfect American boy. He’s Mexican, for one, and the biggest bad ass that attends Fairfield High School. Hot, right?


But he’s part of a gang which is much more serious than just a schoolyard group of bullies throwing their weight around. His father was part of this gang, and so are most of the boy and men in his Mexican community. They’re involved in some serious stuff – like drug dealing, for example – and now that Alex is getting older, his superiors expect him to step up to the plate.

When Alex is paired with Brittany, his friends make a bet with him and set him a challenge he can’t refuse: Alex must get Brittany to sleep with him before the end of the school year. Not one to walk away from a challenge, Alex accepts and sets about wooing his new chemistry partner. The thing is, Alex actually starts falling for this wholesome, clean-cut chick and things suddenly become more complicated than he ever imagined. But Brittany is a smart girl, she’d know better than to fall for Alex’s charade, right? And what about Colin – her quarterback boyfriend? As she spends more time with Alex, Brittany realises that no one has ever made her feel more alive, made her feel more intensely than he does.

Simone Elkeles carves an intense, emotional roller-coaster ride for anyone who dares to step aboard. Her characters are real, alive and dynamic in every which way. I felt like I knew Alex intimately, even though I’ve never met a soul like him in all my years. Brittany is uniquely different from most typical American high school girls found in young adult fiction today. She might look like an American trophy chick, but she’s deeply sensitive and completely misunderstood by the rest of her classmates. The world could learn a thing or two from Brittany’s example.

They’re different in every way and they have many obstacles to overcome, but are they strong enough – individually and together – to run the gauntlet that becomes their lives?

Perfect Chemistry is a touching story that demonstrates that love knows no boundaries, but that humanity knows far too many. I adored every freaking minute of this book and would give my left little toe to go back and read it for the first time over again. A completely unputdownable read.

Rock on Simone, Rock on.

Rating:: ★★★★★